There is a sweet spot in Belmont, nestled in historic downtown, guaranteed to satisfy your sugar craving.
Caravan Coffee & Dessert Bar has been in the community for almost 13 years and is the place to grab a cup of coffee (hot or cold), espresso drink, a lavish dessert or a fruit smoothie. Stay awhile on their outdoor patio for a view of Stowe Park across the street. Brenda’s Cake Gallery sits next door — her pastries are sold at Caravan and her husband Vince Hill runs the coffee shop. Sweet deal.
Walking in the door at this hometown stop, locals greet each other and the atmosphere is intimate and inviting. The oldest centerpiece in the building is located in the middle of the shop — a camel table that is 13 years old. There are numerous framed posters boasting a Moroccan theme — a man jumping out of a teacup and a woman serving a hot beverage.
There are five clocks that hang over the coffee counter so you can see what time it is in Guatemala, Rio de Janeiro, Garibaldi, Morocco, and Kenya. Owner Vince Hill wanted the Moroccan feel since coffee originated there. You definitely don’t feel like you are in Belmont.
The menu is plentiful. I tried the Coffee Toffee Freeze, which includes milk, toffee flavor, coffee, whipped cream, caramel and chocolate. Who says you can’t have it all for $4.05?
There is something for everyone. House recipes include Banana Nut Crunch, Caramel Apple, Peppermint Patti and Lady Luck (Irish cream and white chocolate). If you don’t want coffee, try the chai tea as a hot latte or a summer freeze. A simple brewed coffee will cost you a $1.50 for a 12 oz. cup.
Don’t forget dessert while you’re there — lemon pound cake, chocolate layer cake or carrot cake ($4.25 a slice). If you like it, you can go next door and buy a whole cake.
In addition to a great coffee shop, Hill is known for his involvement in bringing many fun, free community activities to the town of Belmont. Two well-known events are the popular Friday Night Live concerts and the Downtown Christmas Village (both now coordinated by the Belmont Merchants Association).
Friday Night Live concerts happen every other Friday evening (May-August) on the main street. The Downtown Christmas Village has horse-drawn carriage rides, carolers and food vendors on the main street. It originated right outside the coffee shop and used to be called, “Christmas at Caravan.”
Other events include the Summer Sizzlin’ Cook Off, where local grill masters are judged on their recipes for chicken, ribs and pulled pork (Save the date for Sept. 9 and 10). Hill co-created this event in 2007.
He has also been involved with the Belmont Juneteenth Celebration, the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The event is held at Stowe Park and has food, dance, crafts and vendors. (Usually held every June).
If you visit Caravan any day of the week (Monday-Friday) you may meet Frank Zinke, a Belmont regular. I did. He was in his usual window seat with a view of the train tracks and main street Belmont. It’s probably the best seat in the house. The retired principal loves the people and atmosphere. This is how he likes to start his day, and I can’t say I blame him.
“This is my job now,” he laughed.
Before you leave the coffee shop and after you’ve gotten your coffee/chai tea/dessert fix (pick your guilty pleasure), check out the camel mural on the brick wall outside. You can almost smell and taste the coffee spiraling out of the cup. Cheers!
Caravan Coffee & Dessert Bar:
Location: 7 S. Main Street.
Hours: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Photos: Amy Wadsworth